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What you didn't know about teams and trust.

by Dave Osgood, Senior Partner

Why do some teams click and other teams clank?

Put a group of people together in a room, and it’s a roll of the dice as to how well they’ll function as a team. The larger the group, the more difficult it becomes. And because teams are the go-to method of producing work in organizations, the stakes have never been higher. Teammates must find a way to gel quickly to effectively reach their goals.

A few years ago, Google set out to learn why some teams clicked…while others fell behind. After months of analyzing data and interviews from more than 180 teams across the company, Google found that the "who" factor mattered less than the "how." In other words, who was on a particular team was not necessarily a predictor of success. Instead, how a team conducted themselves held a much stronger correlation to the team's achievement.

What factor mattered most? A very specific kind of trust.

Trust that creates “psychological safety” was the most important factor that contributed to a team’s effectiveness. Psychological safety refers to an individual's perception of taking a risk, and the response his or her teammates will have to taking that risk. The Google findings describe it this way: “In a team with high psychological safety, teammates feel safe to take risks around their team members. They feel confident that no one on the team will embarrass or punish anyone else for admitting a mistake, asking a question, or offering a new idea."

This is a simple concept, but building trust between team members is no easy task. Many of us think of trust in a transactional way. Do what you say you will do, and my trust in you grows. However, this falls well short of the deeper level of trust teams need to be truly effective. This deeper level is called “vulnerability based” trust – the kind Google describes in their findings.

That's why we love the new Five Behaviors Profile and tools from Wiley, the publisher of Everything DiSC.

The Five Behaviors profile helps team members discover exactly how their behavioral preferences relate to trust in a team environment. Specifically, trust that creates the environment of psychological safety, the kind of trust that the Google study emphasizes.

Participants also discover how their behavioral preferences impact the four other crucial behaviors teams need to get right – productive conflict, commitment to decisons, holding each other accountable, and focus on achieving collective results.

What is great about Five Behaviors? Its connection to DiSC.

DiSC helps us understand our workplace priorities and preferences, as it is a must-have tool for understanding human behavior. Five Behaviors, however, takes that human behavior and applies it in a team environment. When you implement Five Behaviors in your organization, it will:

  • Quickly bring clarity to goals, roles and decisions

  • Decrease obstacles that can derail or slow down the completion of a project

  • Increase engagement and understanding between each team member

These five key principles - trust, conflict, commitment, accountability, results - are musts in order for teams to succeed. The result is a concrete understanding of what we each bring to teams, and what we can do to make our teams stronger and more personally fulfilling. Each of these practices can also increase retention and significantly impact a company’s bottom line. This is why we truly believe that Five Behaviors is what sustains teams over time.

If your organization has taken DiSC, why not preview how Five Behaviors can help your employees reach the next level? Click here to download a brochure, view a sample profile, or to schedule a 30-minute webinar to learn how to Five Behaviors can be applied within your organization.


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